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Self-Inquiry Meditation (Advaita Vedanta) by Vedhan Sri from Inner Void

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Finding a sense of inner calm and understanding is becoming increasingly vital as our lives continue to become more hectic and fast-paced. Self-Inquiry Meditation, which has its origins in the age-old teachings of Advaita Vedanta, is a transforming practice that gives a path to dive into the depths of our being and uncover our actual essence. In this article, we will delve into the fundamentals of self-inquiry meditation and offer you a comprehensive, step-by-step instruction manual to get started with this profound practice.



How to Understand Meditation for Self-Inquiry

What is Self-Inquiry Meditation?

Self-Inquiry Meditation is a profound spiritual practice that has its origins in the philosophical teachings of Advaita Vedanta, which is an ancient school of wisdom. Self-Inquiry Meditation is an invitation to investigate the nature of our genuine Self and unravel the layers of identification with the mind and ego. At its foundation, self-inquiry meditation is an invitation to explore the nature of our true Self. It requires going deep into self-reflection and asking the fundamental question, "Who am I?" in order to get to the core of our beings and discover who we truly are. Self-Inquiry Meditation is a form of meditation that tries to direct our attention inward, beyond the realm of thoughts and notions, towards the direct experience of pure awareness. This differs from other types of meditation, which focus on relaxation or concentration. We are able to transcend our restricted self-perceptions, learn to study the mind, and become aware of our fundamental oneness with the universe as a result of engaging in this practice. Meditation on the subject of one's own self provides a pathway to self-discovery, which ultimately leads us to a profound recognition of our own nature as limitless consciousness that transcends all dualities.


The Philosophy of Advaita Vedanta: Oneness and Non-Duality

The profound philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, which places an emphasis on the principles of oneness and non-duality, is at the center of the practice of self-inquiry meditation. Brahman is a concept in Advaita Vedanta that describes the ultimate reality. Brahman is described as an infinite and indivisible consciousness that lies at the center of everything that exists. It teaches that the perceived separation between individuals and the world is an illusion, and that the true nature of our being is the same as the essence of the universe. In other words, our own essence is the same as the essence of the cosmos. The concept of "non-duality" is central to the Advaita Vedanta school of thought, and it relates to the realization that there is no essential divide between one's own self and the ultimate reality. Self-Inquiry Meditation is a form of meditation that aims to orient our attention toward the non-dual character of life, thereby assisting us in recognizing that our individual selves, known as Jivatmans, and the universal selves, known as Paramatmans, are inextricably linked. Self-Inquiry Meditation is a practice that helps us grasp the fundamental unity that underlies all things and experience the profound truth of non-duality. We do this by meditating on the question, "Who am I?" and by conducting an investigation into the nature of our identity. It paves the way for a profound sense of interconnectedness as well as an enlarged awareness of where we fit into the great fabric of reality.



 


 

The Purpose of Self-Inquiry: Exploring the True Nature of the Self

Meditation on self-inquiry is practiced with the intention of delving into the innermost recesses of one's being and discovering more about one's authentic self. We have a tendency, in the course of living our day-to-day lives, to identify ourselves with the shifting roles, ideas, and feelings that occur within us. However, the practice of self-inquiry meditation encourages us to call these identifications into question and to inquire into the core of our being that lies beyond the ephemeral elements of our personalities. We eventually transcend the boundaries of the egoic mind and establish a connection with our more fundamental self by asking the fundamental question "Who am I?" and witnessing the coming ideas, sensations, and emotions with detached awareness. Through the practice of self-inquiry meditation, we are able to move our attention inward, away from the outward world, and into the realm of the self, where we can experience the unchanging presence of pure consciousness. When we engage in this process of introspection, we eventually come to the realization that our true nature is not constrained to the narrow confines of the individual self; rather, it is a limitless, timeless, and interconnected consciousness that permeates all of existence. This is a profound insight that can only be attained by the practice of self-exploration. The goal of conducting self-inquiry is to expose the boundless source of knowledge, love, and peace that lies dormant inside each of us and to bring our lives into congruence with a more profound reality. An interior journey of self-discovery is what ultimately leads to profound self-realization and emancipation from the illusions of the egoic mind. This journey takes place within.


Benefits of Self-Inquiry Meditation:

Cultivating Self-Awareness and Mindfulness

Those who commit themselves to the life-altering practice of self-inquiry meditation stand to gain an abundance of benefits from the technique. The development of both one's own self-awareness and one's own mindfulness is one of the most significant benefits. We gain the ability to observe our thoughts, feelings, and sensations with an attitude of detachment and awareness that is free from judgment when we engage in self-inquiry. Because of this increased self-awareness, we are able to acquire a more profound comprehension of the patterns, conditioning, and reactionary tendencies that we have. Because of this, we are better able to respond to the challenges of life with greater clarity and equanimity, as well as make conscious decisions, as we become more alert to the subtle changes that occur inside our own inner landscape.


In addition to this, practicing Self-Inquiry Meditation helps us become better at being present in the here and now. We can cultivate a profound sense of awareness by bringing our attention back to the here and now and delving deeper into the makeup of our being. Because we are in this state of heightened awareness, we are able to fully engage with the sensations we are having without being hindered by distractions or concerns. We experience a stronger sense of thankfulness, joy, and interconnectedness as we grow more attentive to the beauty of the present moment. Through consistent practice, we can begin to create a mindful way of living, including mindful awareness into our exchanges, relationships, and day-to-day activities.




In addition, the practice of self-inquiry meditation fosters both personal development and inner transformation. When we begin to investigate the nature of the self, we begin to peel back the many layers of conditioning, beliefs, and attachments that have contributed to the formation of our identity. This method enables us to get beyond the restrictive constructs of the ego and connect with the wisdom and authenticity that is already inside us. Self-Inquiry Meditation is a powerful tool for both self-discovery and inner healing. It enables us to let go of emotional baggage, heal previous traumas, and cultivate a profound feeling of self-acceptance and compassion, all of which are necessary steps in the process of overcoming emotional scars and discovering our true selves. It paves the way for one's own development, self-awareness, and the extension of consciousness.


Dissolving Illusions and Limiting Beliefs

One of the many significant advantages of engaging in self-inquiry The ultimate power of meditation lies in its ability to free us from the illusions and limiting ideas that keep us back from realizing our full potential. We begin a path of questioning and criticizing the stories we have spun about ourselves when we engage in the practice of self-inquiry (also known as "self-reflection"). We start to become aware of the deeply established thought and perception patterns that have contributed to the formation of our reality and have had an impact on the choices we have made.


As we go deeper into self-inquiry, we open the door to a process that is at once delicate and powerful: the unraveling of the illusions we have been clinging to and the letting go of those illusions. We begin to question the narratives that have been used to define our identities, and we frequently come to the conclusion that these narratives are nothing more than constructions that have been based upon the expectations of society, our prior experiences, and our upbringing. We progressively become aware of the limiting ideas that have defined our lives, such as self-doubt, fear, and a sense of unworthiness, as a result of prolonged practice.


Self-Inquiry The practice of meditation creates a space for introspection and inquiry within ourselves, which enables us to notice limiting beliefs with compassion and without passing judgment on them. We have the ability to disengage ourselves from the hold that these illusions have on us and recognize them for what they really are: transient thoughts and conditioned patterns that do not determine who we are at our core. By calling into doubt their veracity, we expose ourselves to previously unconsidered opportunities and broaden our understanding of who we actually are.


Self-inquiry meditation gives us the power to come into our true selves and live in accordance with our highest truth by allowing us to dissolve limiting beliefs and illusions so that we may see ourselves as we truly are. As we peel away the many layers of conditioning that have been placed on us, we discover a brand-new feeling of independence, emancipation, and acceptance of ourselves. When we are freed from the restraints of society expectations and the limitations we have placed on ourselves, we are able to become conscious of the boundless potential that is inside us.


Cultivating Inner Peace and Tranquility

Self-Inquiry There are significant advantages to be gained through the practice of meditation when it comes to the development of an inner sense of calm and composure. It is crucial to make time in the middle of our hectic and fast-paced existence for times of calm and solitude, during which we can re-establish a connection with our true selves. The practice of self-inquiry creates an environment conducive to introspection, enabling us to descend deeply into the core of our being and unearth the innate calm that is already there inside us.


Self-inquiry is a practice that teaches us to notice our thoughts, feelings, and sensations without attaching any judgment to them or becoming emotionally invested in them. We take on the role of witnesses to our own interior landscape, embarking on a gentle investigation into the workings of our minds and unearthing patterns that may unsettle our equilibrium. When we focus our attention within, we cultivate a better awareness of the ephemeral nature of our thoughts and feelings, which leads us to the realization that they are not an accurate picture of our inner essence and that they are subject to change.



Through the process of engaging in self-inquiry, we build a sense of detachment from the outside world and the unending pressures that it places on us. We grow to understand that true serenity is something that can be found within oneself and is not contingent on external conditions. As a result, we learn to let go of attachments and desires. Because of this detachment, we are able to handle the obstacles that life throws at us with greater equanimity, responding rather than reacting to the highs and lows that life brings.


Self-Inquiry A profound sense of self-acceptance and self-love can also develop through the practice of meditation. Through an investigation into the nature of our authentic selves, we can become aware of the underlying completeness and perfection that is already present inside us. We let go of our tendency to judge and criticize ourselves, instead choosing to embrace ourselves with love and kindness. This self-acceptance sets the way for the blossoming of inner peace, which in turn creates a harmonious relationship with both oneself and the world around oneself.


Experiencing a profound sense of calm and contentment is possible for us through the practice of self-inquiry meditation, which involves the development of inner peace and quiet. When we do this, we draw from a well of calm that is always there inside us, regardless of the conditions in the outside world. This inner serenity turns into a source of strength and stability, enabling us to manage the intricacies of life with grace and clarity and guiding us through the difficulties of life.


Deepening Self-Understanding and Compassion

Self-Inquiry Our capacity for self-understanding and compassion for ourselves and others can both be significantly enhanced via the practice of meditation, which provides significant advantages in these areas. We begin a journey of self-discovery when we engage in the practice of self-inquiry, which involves peeling back the layers of conditioning and beliefs that have shaped our perspective of both ourselves and the world.


When we focus our attention inside and investigate the nature of our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, we acquire insights into the processes that occur within our mind as well as the patterns that impact the behaviors that we engage in. Self-inquiry gives us the opportunity to challenge the limiting ideas that may prevent us from living up to our full potential by calling into question the narratives that we tell ourselves and the world. We start to become aware of the conditioned responses and habitual patterns that are no longer beneficial to us, which paves the way for personal development and transformation on an individual level.


We cultivate a better sense of empathy and compassion toward ourselves as we increase our awareness of ourselves through the process of doing self-inquiry. Realizing that our flaws and weaknesses are an inherent element of being human helps us become more compassionate and accepting of ourselves as we develop the ability to accept and appreciate these aspects of our humanity. Through the practice of self-compassion, we are able to create a profound sense of self-love and acceptance while simultaneously cultivating a relationship with ourselves that is nurturing and helpful.





In addition, engaging in self-inquiry paves the way for the cultivation of compassion for other people. We cultivate a great empathy for the trials and tribulations experienced by others as we become more aware of the connectivity of all beings and as we come to terms with the commonality of the human experience. The practice of self-inquiry instills in us the ability to postpone judgment and approach other people with compassion and understanding. We begin to see past the superficial distinctions between one another and connect on a deeper level, so cultivating relationships that are harmonious and developing a sense of oneness as well as compassion among our communities.


Self-Inquiry Meditation gives us the ability to live more authentic lives and interact with the outside world from a place of love and kindness. It does this by helping us gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and by building compassion for others. Our capacity to interact with other people on a genuine level is improved as a result, which helps to cultivate harmonious relationships and makes a positive contribution to the overall health of our communities. Self-inquiry evolves into a potent instrument for personal and collective development, making it possible for us to acknowledge our authentic selves and show compassion to all other living things.


Step-by-Step Guide to Self-Inquiry Meditation


1. Preparation:

Creating a Sacred Space

Finding a Comfortable Seated Position

Setting Your Intention


2. Relaxation and Centering:

Closing Your Eyes

Taking Deep, Conscious Breaths

Letting Go of Thoughts and Distractions


3. Focusing on the Breath:

Observing the Natural Flow of Your Breath

Anchoring Yourself in the Present Moment


4. Initiating Self-Inquiry:

Introducing the Question: "Who am I?"

Silently Repeating the Question with Open Curiosity

Allowing the Question to Penetrate Deeply Within


5. Observing Thoughts and Emotions:

Welcoming Thoughts and Emotions Without Judgment

Recognizing Their Temporary Nature

Letting Go and Returning to the Question


6. Resting in Pure Awareness:

Transcending Conceptual Answers

Resting in the Observer, the Pure Awareness

Embracing the Silence Between Thoughts


7. Cultivating Gratitude and Compassion:

Bringing Awareness to the Heart Center

Cultivating Feelings of Gratitude and Compassion

Extending Love and Kindness to Self and Others


8. Closing the Meditation:

Coming Back to the Breath and the Present Moment

Reflecting on Your Experience

Expressing Gratitude for the Practice



Have you tried Self-Inquiry Meditation before?

  • Yes, and it has had a profound impact on my life.

  • Yes, but I am still exploring its benefits.

  • No, but I am interested in learning more about it.

  • No, I have never heard of Self-Inquiry Meditation.



How would you describe the effects of Self-Inquiry Meditation on your self-awareness and mindfulness?

  • Significantly enhanced my self-awareness and mindfulness

  • Moderately improved my self-awareness and mindfulness.

  • Had minimal impact on my self-awareness and mindfulness.

  • Not noticed any changes in my self-awareness and mindfulness




How frequently do you practice Self-Inquiry Meditation?

  • Daily

  • Several times a week

  • Once a week

  • Less than once a week


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